Child & Youth Programs
The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Military Services take great pride in the variety and quality of services provided to children and youth on installations worldwide. While the services provided depend on the size of the location, the standards and quality of services are consistent and meet established regulations. The network has hundreds of locations worldwide serving over 1.3 million children.
Child development centers (CDC)
These facilities generally offer child care for children ages six weeks to 5 years old. Care is typically available weekdays. CDCs vary in size; the average CDC cares for about 200 children. All programs must be certified by the DoD and accredited by a national accrediting body such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
With in-home childcare, children receive their care in the private home of a certified provider living in government-owned or leased housing or in state-licensed homes in the community. Family child care provides accommodating child care arrangements, including night, weekend, and flexible hourly care for shift work.
In-home childcare programs offer comparable care to a CDC. Providers must be certified by the DoD, and some seek additional accreditation from the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC). Regulations limit the number of children that may be cared for at one time: no more than six children under age eight, and no more than two children under two years old.
School-age program (SAP)
DoD School-Age programs (SAP) are offered for children, kindergarten through 6th grade before and/or after school, during holidays, and summer vacations. Emphasis is placed on SAP programs which meet community needs, reinforce family values, and promote the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of children. SAP may be provided in DoD Youth Centers, Child Development Centers or other suitable facilities. To expand school-age program spaces, DoD policy encourages use of youth centers; on-and off-base schools, and other suitable facilities such as community centers. Accreditation of DoD SAP programs is a requirement. Accreditation sets the professional standards for after school programs and helps families identify high-quality programs.
Due to a high demand for care, you may be placed on a wait list. Your position on the wait list depends on many factors that are at the discretion of the installation and may include your spouse’s military status, the date you apply, deployment and your employment. If these factors change while you are on the wait list, your position will be changed accordingly, so it is important that you keep your information up-to-date.
Childcare is not an entitlement, and fees are income-based. Fees throughout the child development system of care fall into fee ranges set by DoD.
To apply for child care, fill out DD Form 2606, the Department of Defense Child Development Program Request for Care Record and return them to the Child and Youth Services Coordinator at your installation.
The Department of Defense has a long history of providing positive youth programs that focus on alternative activities for youth during out-of-school hours. Today, DoD continues to be committed to youth by providing consistent guidance and stable and dynamic programs in more than 350 youth programs worldwide. DoD promotes positive youth development by designing programs to recognize the achievements of youth and by developing partnerships with other youth-serving organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and 4-H that offer a variety of resources. Programs for teens and pre-teens vary from one base to another, but are governed by a consistent DoD instruction. Programs prepare young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences that help them become socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively competent. Programs usually include physical fitness and sports, arts and recreation, training in leadership, life skills and career/volunteer opportunities, mentoring, intervention and support services.